#Elections2019: Why Mamata Banerjee is frightened of BJP despite dominating Bengal

Mamata Banerjee’s government denied permission to Yogi Adityanath and Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s helicopters to land in Bengal. This after repeatedly refusing to allow top BJP leaders to hold rallies and conduct yatras in the state. The Kolkata Police, clearly at Mamata’s command, also entered into a stand-off with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that had come to the city to interrogate police commissoner Rajeev Kumar in relation to the Saradha chit fund scam.

Where have we seen ruling governments denying the Opposition permission for conducting rallies? Which state police has ever arrested CBI officials who have come for investigation? Why is Mamata afraid of the BJP and its leadership which according to her is a fringe player in the state?

It is difficult to fathom! As part of its project to improve its position in east and south India, the BJP is putting in all efforts and using star campaigners like Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Yogi and Shivraj in Bengal to exploit people’s frustration with Mamata. Possible gains in Bengal will help the BJP negate some of the expected losses in Hindi heartland states, feel strategists.

Why Mamata is in trouble

1. Trinamool Congress has peaked in Bengal

We have heard a lot about the BJP having peaked in many states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. But so have many regional parties. The Trinamool Congress (TMC) bagged 34 out of 42 seats in Bengal in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

It is very difficult for the TMC to repeat the performance as the BJP is gaining ground. The Congress has adopted a policy of going it alone in the state and the Left is determined to make a comeback. Mamata knows that if her tally declines, her prime ministerial ambitions will receive a big jolt.

2. TMC is the new Left

People fed up with 34-year rule of the Left Front voted for ‘poriborton’ in Bengal. But it is increasingly becoming clear that Mamata has now occupied the position once held by the CPM-led Left Front. She has adopted a similar strategy of using violence, intimidation and rigging to win elections. Clubs have taken over the neighborhoods. The state government nurtures 20,000-odd clubs with crores of rupees every year and these clubs in turn ensure that the area under them remains loyal to Didi.

3. BJP increasingly taking over from Left as the main opposition to TMC

The BJP, like the CPM, won two seats in 2014. In by-polls held since May 2014, the BJP has done well compared to the CPM and Congress. In 10 by-polls that were held in the state since the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP won one seat and finished second on five seats. The CPM couldn’t win a single seat in this period. Mamata realises the threat from the BJP and that’s why has upped the ante against the party.

4. BJP highlighting corruption scandals and minority appeasement politics of Mamata

Muslims account for about 30% of the population of Bengal. The BJP has been accusing Mamata of minority appeasement. In 2017, Mamata made an appeal to the Hindu community to halt Durga puja visarjan for sometime as it had overlapped with Muharram. She had also banned arms at Ram Navmi rallies which has evoked a sharp response from the Hindus. The recent face-off between the Centre and state over the Saradha chit fund scam investigations has given a chance to the BJP to highlight the fact that Mamata is shielding the corrupt.

5. Complementary vote blocks

The upper castes and OBCs support the TMC in the state. At the national level, these voters are with the BJP. More than 60% of the upper castes and 30% of the OBCs voted for the BJP in the 2014 general election. Even in Bengal, the BJP enjoys decent support among these two groups — 24% and 21% respectively. Mamata’s fear is that the Hindus, frustrated with her minority appeasement politics, could consolidate behind the BJP and that could cause her significant damage.

6. Congress’s ‘ekla chalo re’ niti

The TMC, at the end of the day, is a splinter group of the Congress and they too share complementary vote blocks, mostly from the minority sections. The minority votes were split in the 2014 general elections between Mamata, Left and Congress. Both TMC and Congress were in discussion for a seat-sharing arrangement. However, talks have failed. If they would have contested together in 2014, the Left Front candidates would have lost from the 2 seats they won. The BJP, however, would have still managed to retain their seats. The Congress has a strong presence in central Bengal which has seven seats on offer. The party won all four seats from this region in 2014. It also enjoys decent support among the non-literate and the agricultural workers in the state. An alliance with the Congress would have provided Mamata some cushion.

7. Strong vote segments of BJP

The BJP enjoys good support among urban voters (25%) and the middle class (21%). Twenty-nine percent of the educated voters (college and above) chose the BJP in 2014. It has been able to create a space among these categories of voters and also the youth.

Opinion polls predict significant improvement in BJP’s performance 

The C-Voter opinion poll predicts seven seats for the BJP while VDP Associates predicts 15 seats. Both the polls project a significant increase in the vote share for the BJP in the region, from 17% to 32% (C-Voter) and to 37% (VDP Associates).

However, challenges remain

The absence of a strong cadre has been one of the BJP’s weaknesses in Bengal. This is coupled with a lack of leadership to take on the charisma of Mamata, and hence the BJP’s progress has been stalled in the state. Bengal is also known for class politics. The image of the Left and now TMC has been that of championing the rights of the poor and downtrodden. The BJP is currently seen as a party of the middle and rich class. But all said and done, general elections 2019 will see a cracker of a contest in Bengal and Mamata would not have it easy.

This Aarticle was first published on mynation.com on 07 Feb, 2019.


#Elections2019: Mamata Banerjee’s mahagathbandhan initiative the real ‘sabka saath, sabka vinash’

Mamata Banerjee held a rally of Opposition parties in Kolkata on Saturday in which leaders from more than 20 parties were present. Those present at the ‘United India’ rally at the Brigade Parade Ground included former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, BJP rebels Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and Shatrughan Sinha, chief ministers Arvind Kejriwal, Chandrababu Naidu and HD Kumaraswamy and former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Akhilesh Yadav and Gegong Apang.

“Badal do, badal do, Delhi mein sarkar badal do,” Mamata proclaimed from the rally. The Trinamool Congress chief, however, skirted around on the question of who will lead the mahagathbandhan and said it will be decided after the general elections. Yashwant Sinha rephrased BJP’s slogan of ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’ and said the actual slogan was ‘sabka saath, sabka vinash’. Shourie emphasised on putting up a single Opposition candidate against the BJP.

Let’s look at which parties and groups attended the Kolkata rally and which parties gave it a miss.

The rally is being seen as merely a show of strength by Mamata. She nurses prime ministerial ambitions and is trying to emerge as the natural choice for the regional parties.

However, she has competition from Mayawati who had stayed away from the event. Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who has said in the past that he would not shy away from any responsibility, also gave the event a miss. Their representatives were, however, present.

The mahagathbandhan has not yet been formalised and is bereft of any structure and is not expected to project any prime ministerial candidate. At a time when elections in India are approximating the presidential style more and more, not having a prime ministerial candidate and clear leadership could prove to be costly for this loose aggregation of parties.

In 2014, 28% of the electorate gave importance to the prime ministerial candidate while voting for the Lok Sabha according to CSDS National Election Studies. Having confusion over leadership will exclude this set of voters from the target voter group of this alliance.

The internal differences and contradictions in this so-called mahagathbandhan are also coming to the forefront. Many parties and leaders have fought the Congress, Samajwadi Party, BSP, TDP and so on their entire lives. For them to now share the stage with these parties causes uneasiness.

Sharad Yadav scored an own goal by talking about the “dacoity” in the Bofors deal, while what he wanted to criticise was the Rafale deal. While the DMK has been rooting for Rahul as the Prime Minister, its leader MK Stalin didn’t mention it during his speech. A day after the event, RJD’s Tejaswi Yadav rooted for Rahul as the Prime Minister.

While Shourie was rooting for a one-to-one contest, there were leaders sitting on the dais, who have excluded the Congress from an alliance in their backyard, like Uttar Pradesh. Parties like the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have now and again denied any sort of pact with the Congress in Punjab and Delhi.

The table below shows the status of one-on-one contests in states for which regional parties were present at the rally.

The event was more pomp, show and noise than substance. No seat-sharing details emerged. Nor any common manifesto. It was clearly an attempt to organise forces to remove Narendra Modi from power.

The mahagathbandhan includes leaders and parties well past their prime and don’t have much presence left in their respective states. The mahagathbandhan, if formalised, would be the real ‘sabka saath, sabka vinash’. And it may have just provided a powerful narrative to Modi for the general election: all corrupt leaders have ganged up to throw an honest person like me out of power!

This article was first published on mynation.com on Jan. 21st 2019.

#Elections2019: BJP, Hold Onto Allies – Regional Parties Will Call Shots in 2019

The regional parties can smell blood after a tight contest in Gujarat and bypoll results in Rajasthan. They see the prospect of a hung Parliament and the return of true coalition governments which would enhance their bargaining power.

Even some right-wing columnists like Minhaz Merhant, Swapan Dasgupta, and recently, Rajesh Jain have voiced their apprehensions about a Narendra Modi sweep of the scale of 2014 being repeated in 2019.

I have been saying this for long that since BJP has peaked in many states, it is difficult for the party to maintain its previous tally, and there isn’t enough scope to compensate for the loss of seats. This means we are staring at a depleted BJP in Lok Sabha in 2019, though it may continue to be the single largest party.

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which has 15 Members of Parliaments (MP), is on the verge of leaving the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Its MPs have been at odds with the government on the granting of special status to Andhra Pradesh. Even though truce has been achieved for now, the alliance stands on shaky grounds.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), BJP’s oldest allies, have also voiced concerns advising PM Narendra Modi to practice Atal coalition dharma.

BJP has also dumped Naga People’s Front for the newly floated Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party just few days before the state polls. Some of the allies are apprehensive of BJP’s ambition to grow in their backyard, and are even fed up with their arm-twisting tactics.

Why Regional Parties Are A Threat To BJP-Congress Dominance?

The performance of the regional parties has been stable over the years. Since 1952 to 2014, in the Lok Sabha elections, the aggregate vote share of the two parties, Congress and BJP, has averaged 51 percent, while that of regional parties and independents has averaged 49 percent.

While Congress maintained its centrist position in Indian polity in earlier years after Independence, parties like SAD, Bangla Congress, and DMK demanding regional autonomy sprang up to challenge Congress’ dominance.

In 1967, out of 21 states, non-Congress governments were installed in nine states (43 percent). This assault was massive, and hit at the core of Congress’ one party dominance since its formation in 1885.

The seeds of a first non-Congress government at the Centre were sown in many ways in 1967, and in a decade’s time, the nation saw its first non-Congress PM when a united opposition, consisting of many regional parties, contested under Janata Party banner.

The entire east coast from West Bengal to Orissa to Andhra Pradesh to Tamil Nadu has been a den of regional parties.

Vote Share of Congress, BJP and Regional Parties in Lok Sabha Elections
Vote Share of Congress, BJP and Regional Parties in Lok Sabha Elections
(Source: indiavotes.compoliticalbaba.com)

From 1989 to 2009, regional parties played a key role in each government formation at the Centre, as any single party failed to get a majority. Regional parties have recorded 220 odd seats in all elections except for 1991, when Congress got a boost post Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination.

The combined seat tally of BJP and Congress has been in the range of 280-320, except for 1991.

(Photo: indiavotes.com)

The Resurgence of NDA and Where They Are Failing Now

Regional parties usually want to be in the good books of the powers at the Centre, and that’s why we have seen many parties jumping ship from NDA to UPA, and are now back in NDA.

The NDA was formed just before the 1998 Lok Sabha Elections, and comprised 14 parties, which increased to 17 parties in 1999. However, in 2004, allies such as Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party, Omar Abdullah’s National Conference and the DMK, started to desert NDA.

Many parties changed sides after Vajpayee’s loss, prominent ones being Trinamool Congress, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and Rashtriya Lok Dal.

After the loss of 2004, the NDA was reduced to just three parties – BJP, Shiv Sena and SAD until mid 2013, when Modi was announced as PM candidate. With conditions building in favour of Modi and BJP in the run up to the elections, the number of parties in NDA swelled back to more than 20.

In 2014, after 30 years, a single party, the BJP, got an absolute majority which ended 2.5 decades of influence of regional parties on governance.

Although ministries have been allocated to NDA allies, the BJP is running the show without consulting them on key issues. This has been brought to the fore by the two oldest allies, Shiv Sena and SAD, who have stood rock solid behind BJP for all these years.

Power at the Centre has moved from Congress to the BJP, but the increase in BJP’s vote share has largely been at the expense of the latter. The two parties together bagged 50.8 percent vote share in 2014, which is similar to their combined long term average of 51 percent.

Regional parties and independents won 49.2 percent near to their long term average of 49 percent, with independents having a small share of 3.2 percent. While the BJP and Congress bagged approximately 27.8 crore votes in 2014, serious regional players bagged 23.6 crore votes, with independents at 1.7 crores and hopeless contestants recorded the balance of 1.7 crore votes.

The sheer size and die-hard vote block of regional parties shows that they may play a key role in government formation at the Centre in 2019.

Congress performance is bound to improve in 2019, which will likely be at the expense of BJP, going by the past trends. A hung Parliament cannot be ruled out, though it is difficult to ascertain the degree of shortfall.

It’s because of this arithmetic that regional parties see themselves as kingmakers again. BJP should be nervous, start treating allies with respect, and keep them in good humour. As SAD MP Naresh Gujral recently quipped, “It is in BJP’s interest to not ride roughshod over the interests of its allies.”

Allies are not lifelong partners and are itching to hit back.

This article was first pblished on thequint.com on 15 Feb 2018

Assembly Elections: SC-ST Atrocities Act Amendment Definitely Hurt The BJP. Here Are The Numbers.

In March 2018, the Supreme Court introduced safeguards in the Scheduled Caste-Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities Act). The court introduced measures such as preliminary enquiry and anticipatory bail for the accused. This angered the Dalit groups, which called these measures as dilution of the act.

There were widespread protests in the country and seven people died in a Bharat bandh. At least 17 parties and many members of Parliament met President Ramnath Kovind and requested him and the government to nullify the Supreme Court ruling.

Congress leader Sonia Gandhi also wrote to the Prime Minister on this point. The government was under immense pressure from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmakers and the community as well.

SC-ST community accounts for 25 per cent of population of the country. These voters had shifted allegiance from Bahujan Samaj Party and Congress respectively and supported BJP in large numbers. For most of the last decade the bahujans supported largely the Congress and BSP while adivasis mostly Congress.

  • SC support for BJP had doubled from 12 per cent in 2009 to 24 per cent in 2014 elections.
  • Both Congress (-8 per cent) and BSP (-6 per cent) suffered losses.
  • ST support for BJP increased by more than half to 38 per cent in 2014.
  • At the same time Congress suffered a loss of 10 per cent support.

SC Voting Preference

Source: CSDS Post Poll Report 2014Source: CSDS Post Poll Report 2014

ST Voting Preference

Source: CSDS Post Poll Report 2014Source: CSDS Post Poll Report 2014

Under pressure from various groups and to retain the SC-ST vote, the BJP government brought in an amendment to the SC-ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act) to nullify the Supreme Court order and mollify the Dalits in the hope that these voters who had flocked to BJP in large numbers in 2014, don’t drift away.

Its successful foray into the North East, which has significant high population of tribals, also put the onus on the Narendra Modi government to take some urgent action.

The fact that these communities accounted for more than 30 per cent of population in all the three states going to elections – Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan – also played a crucial role in this decision. The party hoped this could give it a boost in the elections considered as semifinals to the Lok Sabha elections in 2019.

The Results Show The Contrary

The BJP received a drubbing in the SC-ST reserved seats in the three states. Its tally fell by more than 50 per cent in both categories as shown below in the table. Its tally in SC reserved seats have declined from 71 in 2013 to 31 in 2018. In ST reserved seats from 57 in 2013 to 28 in 2018.

The best performance of the party was in MP, where Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s popularity and schemes for Dalits-Adivasis, prevented a rout like in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. Chhattisgarh was worst hit with the SC-ST flocking to Congress and Ajit Jogi who promised land rights for tribals.

BJP’s Tally in SC-ST Reserved Seats

Source: Election Commission of IndiaSource: Election Commission of India

As per CSDS post poll survey for Madhya Pradesh, for 40 per cent SC and 47 per cent ST community, the act was an important voting consideration. They were unhappy with dillydallying on part of the BJP government. Out of these, 49 per cent and 39 per cent respectively voted for the Congress party.

This acted as a double whammy for the party as it also instigated a swarn andolanin Madhya Pradesh and angered other castes in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

For 42 per cent Upper Caste and 38 per cent Other Backward Class, the act was an important voting consideration in MP. Out of these, 30 per cent upper caste and 41 per cent OBCs voted for the Congress, making a big dent in the traditional vote bank of the BJP.

Sapaks Party, born out of swarn andolan, scored more votes than margin of victory in two seats in Gwalior Chambal region, leading to the defeat of BJP candidates by less than 1,000 votes.

In one seat, Karera, it bagged 5 per cent votes, denting the party’s chances.

In Chhattisgarh, the Ajit Jogi party and Maya alliance dented the Dalit and Satnami vote bank of the BJP, handing it its worst defeat in the SC reserved seats since formation of the state in 2003.

In Rajasthan, even the return of Kirori Lal Meena didn’t help the BJP. Its tally among the ST reserved seats declined by half from 18 to 9.

Regional distribution in MP shows that not only the SC-STs but a handful of upper caste/OBCs deserted the party as well.

In Malwa, which has the highest SC-ST population in MP of 38 per cent, the party’s tally declined from 55 in 2013 to 28 in 2018. In Mahakoshal, where tribals (31 per cent) are a dominant community, party’s tally reduced by half from 18 to 9.

In Gwalior-Chambal which has the highest upper caste population in the state (28 per cent), party faced a rout.

The Dalit-ire following the anti-Dalit violence across the country may have forced the Dalits to vote against the BJP. Dalit activists allege hundreds of FIRs were filed against them after the Bharat bandh which were never withdrawn.

The Congress party successfully managed to create a perception that BJP is an anti-Dalit party by building a narrative on social media.

Now, it’s a tough challenge for BJP, which has so far successfully managed the contradictions in its umbrella of social alliance, to take both the upper caste as well as Dalits-Tribals together as their support is important to repeat its 2014 victory.

Clearly, the amendment to SC-ST Atrocities Act, didn’t guarantee their support to the party, also it seems to have alienated its core support group of forward caste and OBCs.

This article was first published in swarajyamag.com on 20 Dec. 2018.

Daily News Tadka – 28.05.2016

PBs twisty take on the top five headlines of the day.

1. Cong picks Chidambaram, Sibal, Jairam for Rajya Sabha polls

It can be deemed as a good move because  P Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal and Jairam Ramesh one of the most educated persons in the party. Go for pro farmer policies but at the same time you need to be open with the old things that you had done like in 1990’s.
But then again, it seems like receiving a consolation prize for those who have no hopes of getting elected in near future. One can now expect more fireworks in the Rajya Sabha.

2. With Eye On Poll, Modi May Include New Faces From UP

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah on Friday confirmed that the much awaited Union Cabinet reshuffle will take place soon. Though he did not specify the date but party insiders claimed that it is likely to happen in the first week of June. There are speculations that Modi may axe some ministers because of their poor performances, which is a smart move considering the 3 years of governance left where he has to fulfill various expectations.

3. First Time In History, Polls Cancelled On 2 Tamil Nadu Assembly Seats

Moral victory for the opposition in TN. The whole state was witness to large scale vote buying and the EC was as officious as a policemen on highway patrol answering his control room rather than controlling a mob. It is a travesty of justice that while only polling in 2 seats has been postponed indefinitely , elections were held in other areas with equal violations leading one to question the legitimacy of the current government in TN.

4. Wondering whether Modi govt deserves Raghuram Rajan: P Chidambaram

Rajan appointed by Congress, at present is good at his work. But what the political game in Swamy’s objection is they want a person appointed by BJP. If they increase Rajan’s term all the credit will go to Congress. And that’s the reason PC is in support of Rajan.

5. Committed to bringing back Kashmiri Pandits to Valley: Mehbooba Mufti

For the betterment of all, Don’t be the prey of the political tokenism for Kashmiri Pundits. Just curb violence & militancy, maintain rule of law, restore peace and normalcy which will be beneficial to everyone regardless who is what.

Daily News Tadka – 26.05.2016

PB’s Twisty take on the top five headlines of the day.

1. Jaitley says he disapproves personal attacks on Raghuram Rajan

What evidence is there that confidential and sensitive information was passed on to someone abroad? If evidence is available the same should have been produced. The next question that arises is whether the RBI Governor passed on such information for a consideration. This allegation is a serious one and should not have been made without solid basis.

2. Maken terms Kejriwal ‘mini Modi’ for spending on ads

Advertising is invariably for spreading lies. The best course for the Congress party is to prove that wrong claims are being made through ads. Spending on ads is secondary issue. No political party takes pains to nail the lies. Much more money is being spent on rallies of the parties. Where is the money coming from?

3. I am Pradhan Sevak, not PM: PM Narendra Modi

Modi says that not one story of corruption against his govt is in circulation. It is still early time for such things to come to public domain and if you do not take decisions you stay honest. Up till now Modi is in election mode and has not yet started to govern, keeping the whole country in election mode. The rules & codes of business in the govt are such that the moment you take a decision involving out go of public money, you are bound to be accused of one violation or the other. In last two years, no big ticket purchase has been concluded so naturally no taint of corruption is visible. Let Rafale happen and the corruption story will start floating.


4. Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ Doesn’t Make Me Saffron Demon: Smriti Irani

It was this Columbia Alumni interviewing with a non-graduate of a vague Indian university; in a nation where quoting a Chomsky is more in order than any ancient wisdom from Gita or Ramayana or vachana or thirukkural, it took more than just courage for the Minister to handle whatever was thrown at her.

5. ‘Modi-mukt’ country after 2019: Congress leader C P Joshi

This is problem with Congress, instead of working on their on weakness and strength, they waste their energy in negative campaigning against BJP. Spoken for the sake of speaking. Frankly, when has has BJP won in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal? What has this got to do with Modi”s popularity? On the other hand, fed up of Congress, Assam voted BJP into power for the first time!

What Bengal Assembly Poll Results reflect about 2019 LS elections?

Author:Abhishek Chakraborty

May 19 witnessed how Mamata Banerjee led TMC thumped to victory and silenced a lot of her critics and the propaganda machinery of the opposition. The Left Front-Congress alliance also called “Jote” did have something to cheer about before the elections, especially given the fact that at least numerically their combined vote share was very close to that of TMC. Further, they also anticipated a part of the BJP votes could shift to them due to the presence of a more credible opposition. Unfortunately the “Jote” turned out be “Jawt” meaning tangle. There are many issues why this alliance failed to counter Mamata. But our focus is on evaluating what is the road ahead for these parties/alliances in 2019 Lok Sabha Elections? We will try to answer the questions as whether Mamata will be able to hold on to the same mandate in 2019 or whether there will be a dent in her vote share vis-à-vis loss in seats due to the effect of national level elections? Whether Congress can challenge the might of TMC either alone or will it emerge as the senior partner in their alliance with Left in case if they want to continue with the same? Could the Left be able to win back the support of people of Bengal and emerge as a major challenger to TMC or will it completely disintegrate before the elections? Could the BJP emerge as a player to reckon with and occupy the opposition vacuum created after the so called collapse of “Jote”?


Picture Courtesy: http://www.dnaindia.com

Trinamool Congress (TMC)

With Congress losing ground faster than the movement of T20 scorecard, nationally there is vacuum emerging in the opposition space. This provides the regional leaders like Mamata, Nitish, Jaya, Maya, Mulayam & Naveen an opportunity to occupy the space. However, there presence outside their own states is negligible and hence this could provide an opportunity to the National parties to eat away a sizeable amount of votes from them during National elections. Coming to TMC’s likely performance in 2019, with the Left weakening, the credibility of opposition will be lacking, even though BJP in some pockets could emerge as a serious challenge to the might of TMC and in the process, TMC could lose a few seats to BJP in 2019. Again the effect of 8 years of anti-incumbency cannot be ruled out. But still, it would emerge as the single largest party with close to 30 seats.

Left Front

After facing the recent poll debacle in Bengal, that also saw them being relegated even behind their one time rival Congress, Left Front could face some existential challenges. Whether they are going to continue with the same alliance with Congress or in case of continuation, whether they will be ready to play the role of a minor partner, these questions require serious level of scrutiny from their politburo. Their chances of revival in 2019 look bleak and there is every possible chance that they could draw a blank in the coming LS polls.

Congress (INC)

The less it is said, the better for the party. Congress is currently facing leadership bankruptcy. Since 2013 December, it has been losing state after state (only successes being Mizoram & Puducherry and Bihar as a part of alliance) and the party is living in a state of denial. Not only that, it is happily accepting the role of being minor partner in the alliances (Bihar, TN & WB) thereby allowing the other regional parties (remember CPM could lose its National Party status) to occupy the political space. Bengal is not different even though it emerged as the senior partner in terms of outcome as Congress has pockets of influence in the districts of Murshidabad, North Dinajpur and Malda and could easily hold onto at least 4 of the six seats in these regions even if there is no tie up with the Left. However, in case if an alliance is formed, it could see two seats (Murshidabad & Raiganj) emerging as the bone of contention between these two parties/alliances. Elsewhere in the state, Congress is a dud.


BJP along with other constituents of NDA sailed through during 2014 Lok Sabha elections due to Modi wave. Those elections saw BJP’s vote share jumped to 16.8%. Before the assembly elections it was almost certain that BJP will not be able to hold onto the same mandate either due to weakening of Modi wave or due to the dominance of local factors in assembly elections or due to the absence of a credible face to take BJP through. The only questions remained how much will be the erosion of BJP votes and to which direction they will be moving. Pollsters were expecting a major chunk of these votes could to shift to the “Jote”. Unsurprisingly, BJP did lose close to 6% votes. But on the contrary, there was not much shift of BJP towards Jote, rather it shifted towards TMC. Should we form an opinion that some BJP workers at the ground level were instrumental in shifting these votes to hurt the Jote? But that would a digression as our focus is the potential outcome of BJP in 2019 LS elections. BJP is expected to do better as compared to these assembly elections and even could surpass its vote share of 2014 elections. With people’s faith in Left Front dwindling, BJP has a good chance to emerge as the main opposition to TMC in the coming Lok Sabha elections. By the time we reach 2019, a lot of social security schemes started by the current NDA government will reach people and this could brighten the prospects as well. BJP is likely to hold on to the seats it won in 2014, while adding 3-4 more seats to its kitty including Alipurduar.

Daily News Tadka – 25.05.2016

PBs twisty take on the top five headlines of the day.

1. Government determined to push through GST Bill in next session: Arun Jaitley

The government has decided to go ahead with the Goods and Services Tax ( GST) bill in the Rajya Sabha despite strong opposition by the Congress and its vice-president Rahul Gandhi. Almost all the parties supported the bill, except the Congress, which had taken an unreasonable stand.

2. AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal: ED summons Christian Mitchel’s Indian contacts

Officials said few people involved in creating an overseas firm with Mitchel have been called by the agency to record their statements under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act ( PMLA) this week.
Everyone now just want the issue to be dealt with as soon as possible and all the people involved in this deal should be behind bars.

3. SP BJP’s main rival in Uttar Pradesh: Amit Shah

Showing confidence in his party members, hoping they will get a majority in the state and still undecided on whether they should announce their candidate or not. He also dismissed reports that the BJP brass was mulling over removing Chief Minister Anandiben Patel and said the party had not discussed the issue.

4. ‘Why Amitabh Bachchan?’ Congress Attacks Government Over Delhi Show

Nobody has accused Bachchan of any wrong doing. So why is the Congress getting its knickers all knotted up? Remember that Bachchan was once a Congress MP of the Lok Sabha representing Allahabad? Both the BJP and Bachchan are well within their rights to take part in any socially relevant program. But again, celebrating the two years of being in power, by the BJP was a bit outrageous event. Why celebrate now? Is it going to be their last time?

5. Outrage Over Sexist Comments On Angurlata Deka, BJP’s Assam Lawmaker

Ronald Reagan , the former president of America was an actor and also a former president of Philippines, Jayalalitha, who just won another term in TN and has been CM of that state for more than a decade was a movie actress. What Ram Gopal Verma did was just pure foolish and ignorant and news outlets should not follow the bandwagon on this one.

No hope for GST Bill: Congress likely to retain Rajya Sabha majority

My article in DailyO with Subhash Chandra on Rajya Sabha Numbers and GST Political Chess

No hope for GST Bill: Congress likely to retain Rajya Sabha majority

Daily News Tadka- 23.05.2016

PBs twisty take on the top five headlines of the day.

1. Amma mia! Jaya’s Day 1 as CM

Free power to power looms, reducing tasmac working hours is cool, waiving crop loans, maybe. But 4 to 8 grams of gold? 100 units of power? 25-50k monetary assistance?
Along with all her new promise fulfillment, they was minor controversy with Stalin getting furious over his seating arrangements. It is a welcome change to see the leader of the opposition party attending the swearing in ceremony after a pretty long time. The Chief Minister could have shown some courtesy, a gesture that would have augured well for the state.

2. BJP seeks Kejriwal’s apology for ‘defaming’ Goa

Kejriwal is merely stating the truth and he left out mentioning the Russian and other drug Mafias. All previous regimes have to be blamed for the state of affairs in Goa, the BJP has been in power for less than 5 years, so I fail to see why they are so uptight.
Why do politician always ask other politician to apologize, may be political parties want to show public that he his wrong or vote bank policy.

3. BJP making Sonowal’s swearing a gala event

I think they are trying to send the message to the remaining North-East states about the change.
Next we will see that the opposing parties shall file a petition for expenses incurred and the press shall carry it as headline once the amount is known and debate it for days.

4. Harish Rawat Asked to Appear Before CBI in Sting Operation Probe

CBI must ensure conviction of Harish Rawat. It should not be made laughter case as happening time and again. Rawat is trying move the case out of CBI hand. Know that Mr. Narendra Modi also appeared before the SIT when he was CM of Gujarat. Why Rawat is afraid to get the clean chit after proper investigation?

5. Nitish Kumar Failed to Ensure Law and Order in Bihar, Says RJD MP

I suspect that JD(U) is trying to get back into NDA and likely to break with RJD and form a fresh NDA govt in Bihar with BJP.
This situation is continuing since last 25 years of RJD-JD(U) regime but no progress is visible in any part of state. The people are solely responsible for electing corrupt and worst governance time and again. Now both parties are blaming each other for non-development and complete anarchy in state resulted in worst suffering by people of state since nothing is moving in present government.

Daily News Tadka -18.05.2016

PBs twisty take on the top five headlines of the day.

1. Vijay Mallya must pay in full, says PNB chief Usha Ananthasubramanian

After declaring reports of loss of Rs. 5,367 crores, they have issued statements for all the willful defaulters to pay back the money they owe.
Wishful thinking, madam. The SBI, whose CMD OP Bhatt deliberately and criminally gave 15,000 crores of public money to Mallaya wants to recover some money and close the issue. This, the present SBI management feels will minimize the chances of a criminal investigation exposing the role of people like OP Bhatt.

2. Cong slams BJP over Swamy’s attack on RBI Guv

Lower cruse price gave a golden chance to RBI to lower rate at faster rate to spur-up the economy, but Rajan by his know-it-all attitude failed to capitalize on it.
Never before India has seen such an aggressive lobbying for an RBI Governor’s extension. First it came from foreign rating agencies like CLSA openly threatening Indian Govt that If Rajan is not retained, rupee will bite dust. Then other rating agencies like Fitch, Moody’s too came in support of their man Rajan. And today JP Morgan has come up its support to Rajan.

3. Renaming Roads and Cities: Govt’s Misplaced Priorities?

The Congress governments in the past also used some pretext or the other to rename streets and buildings and airports and central schemes after prominent figures of the Nehru-Gandhi family; notwithstanding any real contribution.

4. Delhi Government Releases Statehood Draft Bill

Actually it should be run by President. Although BJP in past have supported statehood, but it should not be given. Also, in future, there should not be any event in Delhi – but in other cities of India. Delhi should only be for administration of India.

5. MPs Want PAC to Take up Agusta Report, No Call Taken Yet

The CAG report on VVIP chopper deal was put before the then PAC headed by Dr MM Joshi in 2013 when UPA was in power. It was however not taken up for any further deliberations.

Daily News Tadka – 13.05.2016

PBs twisty take on the top five headlines of the day.

1. BJP-led NDA only alternative for Kerala: Prabhu

Prabhu termed the charges by those rescued from Libya that the Centre had done nothing to help them as “politically motivated”.

2. Govt accuses Congress of politically blocking GST

One is not sure about the importance of RS in present scenario.The Upper house [comprised of Thinker/ professionals/ non political persons from cross section of society] which is supposed to guide the nation has become full of loyalists to political parties or non electable politicians, who hardly think about the nation and the developmental issues which are of utmost important for this country and the citizens.

3. India’s New Trademark, Patent, IPR Policy

There are so many such key initiative taken by Govt but Media never show these news with importance. Good move. Intellectual property policy has to be in place to prevent infringements against patented ideas.

4. In 24 Hours, Two Journalists Shot Dead In Bihar And Jharkhand

Is this what you call Jungle Raj? Killing of fourth pillar of democracy is equally condemnable and perpetrator should be bought to book immediately.

5. ‘Italy May Out PM Modi Meeting If…’: Agusta Middleman’s New Claim

A broker accused of corruption, has to tell many things to get out of the case. Wonder how easily he is accessible to selected media houses even though he is a absconder from 3 jurisdiction.

Daily News Tadka – 10.05.2016

PBs twisty take on the top five headlines of the day.

1. Use of Hindi in higher judiciary not possible: Rijiju

Hindi, whatever be its status, is not the lingua franca of whole India. Certainly Hindi should not be imposed, Supreme Court should take the initiative.

2. Rahul Gandhi Unwell, Cancels Visit to Poll-Bound States

The 45 year old Congress leader updated his followers on late Monday night. Giving all the bhakts over the internet this great opportunity to blame him for being cowardly regarding the threat. Looking over it, this is indeed conveniently timed.

3. Congress MPs Move Privilege Motion Against PM for Comments on Agusta Issue

Neither Congress not BJP is interested in truth coming out. All facts revealed in Italy and noise in India with no action. Indeed a great situation.

4. Democracy Has Won, Says Ghulam Nabi Azad on Uttarakhand Floor Test

Uttarakhand episode is a veiled warning to Modi that he is not above law nor above constitution and should not try to browbeat the legal provisions to occupy power.

5. Modi degree row

The Delhi University has finally declared Modi’s degree authentic, but all over the internet, it looks like – if AAP says it’s fake then it has to be fake. You should not argue with them. You are not worthy enough to question them. In India ,only they have the authority to question , investigate and punish other politicians. What about their own people ? ..you must be a ‘Bhakt’ to ask this.

Daily News Tadka – 09.05.2016

PBs twisty take on the top five headlines of the day.

1. BJP Banks on Second Sting to Defeat Rawat in Uttarakhand Floor Test

If floor test was admitted when the BJP appointed Governor recommended, it would have been better for BJP. Endless nautanki for HC and SC had to show their place. Rawat is no saint. Some of the information available in public domain are appearing to be unlawful if proved. BJP has helped Rawat by their insincere actions.

2. Mehbooba Says no Plan to Establish Sainik Colony in Kashmir

The demand for establishing a Sainik Colony is from state subjects and not the ex-servicemen from outside the state. As the beef between Omar and Mehbooba increases, the need of the hour is still not addressed.

3. Congress Slams PM for Naming Sonia in Chopper Scam

The fact reported in medias is clear evidence of massive bungling made by UPA govt under orders of Sonia who is instrumental in this deal. There is prima facie is established after Italian court verdict. It is very surprising that Modi govt is still sitting over the matter by not directing CBI to arrest all culprits named in court verdict.

4. Threat Letter to Rahul

Looks like a manufactured sympathy gaining gesture to loop in voters or avoid the chopper scam from the headlines.

5. BJP fails to utilise Lok Sabha steam to power through in TN polls

In Kerala, the BJP is giving the jitters to the two major forces — Congress and the Left. But in Tamil Nadu, its rank and file rue the central leadership’s failure to forge alliances when it had the chance. All the advantage of the Lok Sabha polls has been blown away by the BJP leadership.

Daily News Tadka – 07.05.2016

PBs twisty take on the top five headlines of the day.

1. India’s foreign exchange reserves rise to $363 billion

Let us look at what is happening in the world. Why are China and Russia accumulating Gold in fantastic quantities; why has China, Saudi Arabia and many oil countries stopped buying U.S. Debt.  It is high time that we should invest a good amount of these reserves for developing our own infrastructure and the betterment for millions of citizens in this country; the children getting proper nutrition, proper education, proper medical care.

2. Modi to Meet CMs of UP, Maharashtra, Karnataka Over Drought Crisis

Yadav, who has been engaged in a war of words with the central government over its offer of supplying water through trains, said the Centre and state governments need to work together. Yesterday the crooked nose UP govt refused the water train sent by Modi and today this.

3. AAP vs BJP vs Congress: It’s a three-way war over Agusta chopper row

It seems like its Kejriwal’s response to BJP’s allegations of him trying to “deflect attention” at a time a debate over alleged kickbacks in the supply of 12 choppers to the Indian Air Force in the UPA regime.

4. Court summons Kejriwal for insulting Delhi cops

He will never get tired of receiving summons from courts. Crime is crime and it should not be taken lightly as Kejriwal has taken it. Now, he has to pray for excuse in the court which itself will be very derogatory for the post of Chief Minister of Delhi.

5. Uttarakhand floor test: Congress, BJP issue whips to MLAs

Which Party? Both the BJP and Congress are issuing the whip.  In case MLAs fail to attend tomorrow’s meeting, whip will be served to them through Collector of the concerned district.

Daily News Tadka – 1.05.2016

PBs twisty take on the top five headlines of the day. 

1. PM Modi reaches out to Nishads with e-boats

Some of the statements simply are not true. Five hundred savings in fuel but about at least two times the cost for a solar cells and battery with most components imported. Compare the price of TEsla with ordinary cars. Only super rich can buy them now. People are ready to believe anything being thrown at them. Totally ridiculous claims and lot of naive believers.

2. Mamata threatens cops for locking party offices

That the EC has transgressed its Constitutional limits and have oppressed the voters of Bengal in an unprecedented 45 degree Celsius by unnecessarily dragging the election process to more than a month in order to help the opposition which has been discarded by people since 2011 till date. There is evidence that the EC is biased against the CM and the ruling party to get rewards from China via CPI(M) offices in Delhi and Kolkata.

3. India, China armies agree to keep peace in Ladakh

A spokesman for the army’s Udhampur-headquartered Northern Command told IANS that the two armies held Border Personnel Meetings with their senior commanders as part of efforts to build cordial ties.
Sensible but the Red Dragon cannot be trusted.

4. BJP will score a zero in Kerala, predicts AK Antony

Interesting declaration by AKA. Only thing is that wherever there is majority for Muslims faith and christian faith they have created Muslim league and Kerala congress and keep winning on the basis of their religion. Sadly, AKA have no issue with their religious politics!

5. Haryana Jats now want the rioters, looters freed

If this is the way to get demands met by the government then god save India because every community will do the same and the law of the jungle shall prevail. This should not be allowed and strict action taken against culprits.

Daily News Tadka – 23.04.2016

PBs twisty take on the top five headlines of the day.

1. Rahul attacks Mamata, PM Modi; seeks vote for Congress-CPI(M) in Bengal

Good to know he is still around and kicking, commenting about the caste problems. Did not hear his talk for two weeks or read his name in any newspaper, got deeply worried. Because with the absence of such characters Indian politics will loose its fun and entertainment quotient.

2. UTTARAKHAND TUSSLE-Speaker Seeks Dismissal of Disqualified Congress MLAs Plea

Strange arguments at the Courts and even these highly paid Lawyers try such illogical points to gain for their clients and it seems that ethical reasoning or saner thoughts to debate is the last thoughts in their minds while arguing these cases.

3. Will Unite Anti-BJP Forces, PM Post Depends on Destiny: Nitish

Nitish has started thinking that he is a PM material . Being soft spoken is good but one needs many more qualities to become a PM.
Nitish’s destiny is playing second fiddle to Laluji. This attribution to destiny apart, Nitish Kumar could be a good converging point for the next government.

4. Member of Erstwhile NAC Led by Sonia Gandhi Nominated to RS

Good economists, Sports persons, journalist is also essential in Rajya sabha. PM Modi must ensure that more people of different academic background enter Rajya sabha.
Anupam Kher might be sulking.

5. BJP promises Jallikattu, implementation of prohibition in Tamil Nadu

BJP is promising Jallikattu? something which has been banned by SC? shows its desperation and seriousness. BJP in Tamil Nadu, no visibility in action. Only appearing on Dravidan Channels for debates!

Daily News Tadka – 16.04.2016

PBs twisty take on the top five headlines of the day.

1. Mehbooba Mufti Met Manohar Parrikar Over Civilian Deaths, Says PDP

First establish mechanism against blaming, stone pelting, Pak flag waving groups. This has to be quid pro quo to time bound investigation against armed forces personnel. Separatists have also expressed concern over the Centre’s decision to mobilise more troops for the State.

2. Odd-even: Air quality improves | 437 fined till noon

April 14-17 are Holidays and a large number of people in NCR are out of the city on vacation trips. So, pollution is automatically down. The test will start from Monday when crowd returns and offices open. Also, if Odd/Even is applied on regular basis, many people will buy a second car with opposite last number. So, one may find reduction of traffic in short term, but in long term it will be a pain. Anyway, there will be three big winners of this scheme in longer term – 1. Taxi Operators(Expensive) 2. Auto Drivers (Notorious) 3. Car Dealers.

3. Nitish Woos Non-BJP Parties: Make India Sangh Free to Save Democracy

“Uniting against BJP and its divisive ideology is the only way to save democracy,” said Kumar, who has already talked about “largest possible unity” among secular parties. The Chief Minister said he was not against any party or individual, but against “divisive” ideology of the Sangh, the ideological parent of the BJP.

4. West Bengal to Vote for Phase 2 of Assembly Polls on Sunday

Post Saradha scam in which lakhs of investors had been duped and the Narada sting operation, which has purportedly shown some leaders of Trinamool Congress (TMC) accepting bribes, the issue of corruption has evolved as the main poll plank for the Congress-Left Front alliance, apart from “restoration of democracy”.

5. BJP Not to Announce CM Candidate for UP Polls

In Mirzapur, as part of his campaign across the state after being appointed the new state chief, Maurya also said the decision about the chief ministerial candidate would be decided after the elections were over, in the event of a win.

Daily News Tadka -14.04.2016

PBs twisty take on the top five headlines of the day.

1. People Will ‘Showcause’ Election Commission On May 19: Mamata Banerjee

In this case she is correct.EC is now joining the gang of opposition. Asansole district declaration is in public domain since Dec 15. How come EC show cause here with out verifying the fact. Just opposition complained and EC serve a notice mean Mr Zaidi is securing his RS seat post retirement.EC is no longer neutral any more. Once Jyoti Basu said EC is like a mad dog and that time communist were clapping on this comments. Now this opportunist party are crying foul.

2. Congress Undermining Legacy Of BR Ambedkar, Says PM Modi

If he is the PM because of Babasaheb he should show courage to publicly burn the ‘Manu Smruti’. Otherwise it will only be a ‘jumla’ for political mileage.
However, the idea of unity is important for this country. Dividing Hindus along the lines of caste severely affects the community. In the short term, the Dalits need extra support to rise to the same level as others. However, in the longer term, they would not want any alms from anyone. They want to be treated the same as anyone.

3. Rs 1 lakh cr for ports: PM | ‘Ports can boost GDP 1.4%’

Developing ports will definitely reduce the shipping costs. Mechanizing ports will reduce cost further , as the loading and unloading time will reduce.
But why can’t India take soft term loans and developers some key ports keeping in mind the future needs and security aspects?

4. Digvijaya’s Talk of Working With Nitish ‘Too Premature’: Congress

During the 2004 elections as also in 2009 and 2014 polls, Congress had gone for alliances at the state level with different partners but there was no national-level alliance. In the last Lok Sabha elections, Congress not only lost power but its tally plunged to an all-time low of 44 in the 543-member House as it was swept off by the Narendra Modi wave.
They seem to have lost the support.

5. With Maurya Helming BJP in UP, Congress May Revive Old Caste Combo

For congress ,manuwadis are enemies because of their association with the Periyar devotees for some MLA and MP seats.But they depend on maniwadi votes for survival in UP. That is why congress party will be celebrating the golden jubilee year of their defeat in Tamilnadu in 2017.

Daily News Tadka -12.04.2016

PBs twisty take on the top five headlines of the day.

1. Temple fireworks mishap: 13 persons arrested

The process of investigation , filing of charge sheet and so on are completed swiftly and the appropriate punishment is meted out in a time bound manner. This aside, preventive measures have to be put in place.

2. BJP’s coalition with PDP to fight separatists: Jaitley

Does PDP believe in same programme? Because PDP is elected by Separatists mostly and Mehbooba has her commitment to these forces. How will this coalition govt fulfill J&K people desire when J&K’s most people don’t believe to stay with India?

3. SC wants loan defaults to be public, RBI not keen

One cannot understand why Govt is not bold enough to snap defaulters like Mallya. Apparently, bold moves long back could have reduced all the NPA in Indian Banks. The recent reduction of interest rates by Reserve bank is nothing but a ploy to overcome the losses of nationalized banks where the total bad debts very cleverly named as non performing assets could be very substantial running into thousands of crores of rupees.

4. Rahul Visits Mumbai’s Deonar Ground, Slams PM Over Swachch Bharat

You can take the Horse to the Water but you can’t make it Drink,
Mr. Modi has been quite serious about cleanliness, yes at times the Government Machinery may fall short, but we need to also put in effort to keep our surrounding clean which is the most basic hygiene habit we are thought since our childhood and how wrong it is for someone to oppose such a good initiative.

5. Uttarakhand HC refuses to stay disqualification of rebel Congress MLAs

Senior lawyer and Congress leader Kapil Sibal, representing the Speaker, argued against any relief to the rebel MLAs. Even Kapil Sibal dd not get a chance to speak. Quite an intense environment. The judge had also observed that deserting the leader and deserting the government is not synonymous with deserting the party and that dissent was not defection.

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